Just like parties to commercial transactions today, merchants in Europe in the Middle Ages knew that time is money. Waiting on courts and legislative entities was a money-losing option, so they created their own means to settle disputes – the lex mercatoria (see articles in Wikipedia and Trans-Lex.org for an overview). The lex mercatoria, Latin for “commercial law,” took into account best commercial practices and existing laws of the jurisdiction where disputes arose. Some commercial best practices were later codified into national legal systems. Others were recognized in judicial opinions. Other customs remained, simply, customs. Read further >
Vice President of Strategy & Competitive Intelligence
Wolters Kluwer Global Platform Organization
John Barker is Vice President of Strategy & Competitive Intelligence in Wolters Kluwer’s Global Platform Organization. In this role, John provides strategic direction for Wolters Kluwer’s global tax, legal, and regulatory content delivery platform, Global Atlas, and shares strategic product design best practices globally across Wolters Kluwer.
John has an extensive background in professional publishing, including as a Product Manager and Executive Legal Consultant at LexisNexis, a consultant, and award-winning Account Manager for Thomson Reuters. John has appeared as a keynote speaker at multiple Law Librarian Associations, and authored more than 50 articles discussing the application of technology to the practice of law. He has served as a Special Counsel for Technology at the Indianapolis law firm of Ice Miller LLP, and had a clerkship to a U.S. Magistrate with the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana
John holds a Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Tulane University Law School, New Orleans, and a BA in Philosophy, magna cum laude, from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.
Posts by John Barker
Legal knowledge management (KM) has been through many phases with mixed success. It goes through phases of being fully funded but later subject to budget cuts. Read further >
The Financial Times’s most recent Special Report on The Connected Business inspired me to think about the imperative for law, accounting, and professional services firms (PSOs) to adopt techniques of crowdsourced open innovation methods for enhancing services delivery to their clients. Crowdsourcing in the context of innovation essentially refers to submitting problems to an open or restricted community and asking for suggestions and perhaps even joint development. Winners might even get a reward as part of a contest. In the context of PSOs, the community might be the members of a corporate legal department and partners, associates and paralegals in a law firm that traditionally has provided services to them. In an era where corporate legal departments are moving more work in-house and consolidating outsourced legal work to a smaller number of law firms, open innovation methods initiated by a law firm can help a corporate legal department refine its choice of law firm service providers more accurately. Here’s how it might work. Read further >
Valuable insights appear in the recently released inaugural Special Report from the Financial Times on Innovative Lawyers in Asia-Pacific, which follow its earlier Special Reports on innovative lawyers in the US and Europe that I have blogged about in the past. The FT observes that many law firms in the Asia-Pacific are more innovative than their counterparts in the US and UK. Several factors contribute to this: Read further >
Several marketing professionals to professional services firms (law firms and accounting firms) recommend self-publishing as a way to demonstrate thought leadership to demonstrate thought leadership to retain clients, upsell to existing clients and find new clients. The biggest question is, of course, where are clients and potential clients for any given firm likely to seek thought leadership. Obvious candidates are websites; podcasts; social media (Twitter, Face, LinkedIn); email; print and digital books, journals, articles & magazines; white papers; television and radio interviews; and public hearings before state & federal government entities. And all those expressions of thought leadership are likely to be accessed via smartphones, tablet devices. I’d like to focus on the eReader. Read further >
Recently I had the privilege of meeting several customers from law firms, accounting firms and corporate legal and tax departments in Toronto as part of Wolters Kluwer Canada’s Development Partners Meeting that took place on May 28. As noted in our 2013 Annual Report, the Development Partners initiative began in January 2012 with a group of 20 customers and now has expanded to more than 90. Customers who are development partners look at product concepts and indicate interest or lack thereof, participate in innovation tournaments with Wolters Kluwer team members to generate ideas, and then quickly filter them using the wisdom of the crowd, to guide us in how to help them deliver greater value to their clients. I was a keynote speaker at the meeting and presented several product ideas from our businesses around the world. The themes all revolved around helping law firms and accounting firms create more value for their clients by moving beyond only reactive tax compliance to proactive strategic tax advice. Read further >
As promised in the prior post about how the new normal for legal increases the need for current awareness, I want to offer some thoughts focusing on how current awareness is increasing in importance for the business of law. The business of law is equally relevant for all players in the legal value chain. Law firms want to maintain and/or increase revenues from existing clients by delivering more value (better outcomes, more favorable settlement terms, preventing or reducing litigation risk, providing services in a greater number of practice areas, anticipating legal needs) as well as finding new clients. Corporate legal departments likewise must engage in business development by showing greater return on investment from the department’s budget. It, too, must better understand its internal stakeholders’ business goals. It must increase awareness within the entire corporation about the importance of engaging the legal department earlier in the product development process. How can current awareness help? Conversations with law firms and corporate legal departments around the world have yielded the following insights for current awareness: Read further >
Current awareness has always been important for lawyers both for the practice of law (staying current with legal developments in a practice area, advising clients of emerging risks) and for the business of law (remaining relevant to existing clients, finding new clients). I believe that the new normal for legal actually increases the importance of current awareness. Here’s why: Read further >
You already know from prior posts about my enthusiasm for monthly innovation tournaments, organized around enterprise-wide customer-focused themes that we hold in our offices in Alphen aan den Rijn, New York and Riverwoods, IL. Collaboration of team members across Wolters Kluwer’s tax, legal, regulatory, health, financial services, and technology shared services organizations and representing diverse skill sets (business, technology, marketing, R&D and executive management) is fruitful. Here are some emerging best practices for enterprise-wide tournaments: Read further >
The Financial Times’ Special Reports on Innovative Lawyer (global and US) reveals a lot of innovation in the legal profession. Despite a reputation for being slow to change, many law firms, corporate legal departments, law schools, and providers or legal process outsourcing are bringing comprehensive change in both the business and practice of law. Driving factors of this innovation includes several factors working together: Read further >